Thursday, August 09, 2018

Failed Treatment Trial for Me: Berberine

Constant low blood sugar headaches made berberine a no-go for me.
About a month ago, I wrote here about new-to-me (and one entirely new) treatments for ME/CFS. I have since tried one of those treatments for myself, but I had to stop within a week due to side effects, so I wanted to report back.

As I explained in that earlier post, I'd read this research article on the antifungal effects of berberine, which is sold as a supplement. That same week that I wrote the post, I started taking berberine since chronic yeast overgrowth is a long-term problem for both my son and I, as it is for many patients with ME/CFS. My doctor had given me the OK, and the research seemed promising. I also read that berberine was excellent at reducing cholesterol and triglycerides, which would also be an added benefit to me, since mine are often borderline, and the medications and supplements used to treat high triglycerides are contraindicated for Orthostatic Intolerance (because they dilate the blood vessels, worsening OI and thus worsening most ME/CFS symptoms). So, I had high hopes for my berberine trial. My one concern, as I explained in that earlier post, was that I also read that it could reduce blood sugar, and like most patients with ME/CFS, I already have low blood sugar. I was right to be concerned.

I bought a bottle of 500 mg capsules of berberine and began with two a day. Its effect of lowering blood sugar was immediately obvious to me. Right from that first day, my low blood sugar got much worse, and I got a killer headache both before lunch and before dinner when my blood sugar was at its lowest. I reduced my dose down to just 1 pill (500 mg) a day and tried to keep up small snacks during the day, but the low blood sugar and resulting headache continued. In fact, I quit taking the berberine completely after a few days, but the nonstop headache continued for a full week. I was hugely relieved when it finally wore off.

I did read about one doctor who recommended a dose of only 200 mg, instead of 500 mg, but my reaction was so intense that I don't think I will try it again. I may try some new varieties of probiotics instead. There are a few I have heard about from other patients that sound worth a try. I'll let you know!
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